How can you support the health and safety of your organisation's volunteers?

With the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 (HWSA) coming into effect on 4 April 2016, many voluntary organisations are reviewing their health and safety policies and their risk management plans. The HWSA is particularly relevant for organisations with employees, which are called, under the legislation, Persons Conducting a Business Undertaking (PCBUs). The HWSA has less impact on all-voluntary organisations.

Regardless of the legal context, however, the human bottom line remains the same: good planning can improve the health and safety of our volunteers.

On this page you can find materials that have been developed in response to a Volunteer Health and Safety Workshop that ENM delivered in August 2014, in collaboration with NZ Landcare Trust and with substantial support from several other ENM member groups and external organisations. Governance boards and volunteer managers might find these materials are a helpful contribution to improved practice.

Alternatively or additionally, you might wish to make use of the health and safety templates provided by WorkSafe New Zealand. Also see WorkSafe for information about liabilities and the regulatory context. Please note that ENM does not provide legal advice. Please seek a qualified professional if you have questions about legal liabilities, insurance, or other technical matters.


Forms and other materials for health and safety management planning

Risk Scoring Matrix and Hazard Register. A good volunteer health and safety management plan starts with an assessment of risks. What risks are posed by your organisation's activities? How likely is an incident to occur? If it does occur, what severity of harm is posed? This matrix is one tool for answering these questions. 3 pages, 3 tables, 50 kb.

Types of Hazard. Do you want another tool to support your use of the risk matrix (or some other approach to risk assessment)? This list of hazard types, which is based on a NZ Landcare Trust chart, provides one tool for thinking more systematically about your activities. 2 pages, 32 kb.

Hazard Management Plan. Once you know the potential hazards of your activities, how will you manage them to eliminate, isolate, or minimise the risk of harm? This hazard register form is a tool for preparing your health and safety plan. 2 pages, 1 table, 39 kb. Update on 16 June: We're hoping to add an example of a filled-in register form quite soon, but we are waiting for permissions. Stay tuned!

Sample Safety Guide for Activity Leaders. You've assessed your risks and decided how you want to manage them. The next step is to make sure the plan is communicated and implemented effectively. This involves making sure the correct safety gear is on hand (and gets used!), doing a good volunteer health and safety briefing, and having a leader prepared to watch out for and respond to situations throughout the activity. This safety guide provides a checklist approach to getting activity leaders prepared for their responsibilities. 3 pages, 2 tables, 88 kb.

Sample Incident Procedure. How will your organisation respond to a health and safety accident? How about to an incident or a near miss, which are both opportunities to learn before something harmful occurs? Attached is a sample policy and procedures document covering immediate response, notification of authorities, and board response to diminish the likelihood of an event's recurrence. A sample internal reporting form is included. The Environment Network Manawatu has developed these sample policies and procedures by simplifying several more complex models. They may require amendment to suit the needs of particular organisations, or to align with statutory requirements. 2 pages, 1 table, 64 kb.


Do you want to learn more?

You may find the following external resources useful for enhancing your volunteer health and safety management.

First Aid Training. Red Cross New Zealand offers first aid courses for a fee. These may be tailored for particular purposes, for example, they offer a tailored course for foresters.

WorkSafe New Zealand. WorkSafe is the regulatory authority to go to with respect to worker health and safety, whether paid or voluntary. See WorkSafe for current regulatory requirements and notice of upcoming changes, to report serious harm, for best practice guidelines, for health and safety templates, and more.

Keeping Landcare Group Volunteers Safe: Occupational Safety and Health Information for Landcare Groups Working on Private Land and Private Land Owners. This NZ Landcare Trust publication is aimed at its own volunteers. Aspects of this publication may be informative for other voluntary groups who are involved in outdoor activities, or whose volunteers work at sites they do not themselves own.

Te Kauru volunteers off to plant at Kaitoki